How to receive workers’ comp after a catastrophic spinal injury on the job
With over 17,800 cases of spinal cord damage each year, dealing with a spinal injury can be the most excruciating experience a worker in Arizona can go through. It can leave you requiring medical services with treatment options that prove expensive to settle.
In most cases, a worker is unfit for employment after a spinal cord injury, which ultimately leads to them losing their jobs. After their recovery, there’s no guarantee that they will still maintain their quality of life as their mobility may be affected, depending on the severity of the injury.
If you or your loved one has been a victim of a spinal injury while working, you have legal rights to seek compensation for your lost wages and medical expenses. Our experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorneys have decades of experience under our belt to represent you.
Types of work-related spinal Injuries
Spinal cord injuries can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Many lead to lifelong catastrophic effects, while others are only temporary. Here are some of the common spinal injuries that can happen at work.
Complete versus incomplete spinal injury
A complete spinal injury is the result of substantial trauma inflicted on your spine. This type of injury poses long-term effects on your mobility and skeletal structure. More often than not, the result will leave you crippled if not permanently paralyzed. You may lose all sensation throughout your body, and you may require a wheelchair to move.
A complete spinal injury can be categorized into 2 specific cases:
Incomplete spinal injury involves the partial loss of bodily function below the damaged area. It often leads to one side of the body losing sensation due to the cervical vertebrae’s trauma.
An incomplete spinal injury can be classified into 3 types: anterior cord, central cord and Brown-Sequard syndrome. Each type represents a specific condition ranging from hemianesthesia, arm nerve injury and temporary motor damage.
Cervical, thoracic and lumbar injuries
The extent of your injury can vary with either temporary or permanent paralysis to the body. Here are the distinguishing factors of damage to the cervical, lumbar and thoracic regions.
- Cervical. Also known as a neck injury, this is caused by the compression, rotation and contusion of the upper spine. This injury can result in full or partial paralysis in the leg and arm region.
- Lumbar. This lower back injury is brought about by the damage to tendons, muscles and lower spine. This can leave one experiencing muscle spasms and permanent or temporary loss of sensation in the legs.
- Thoracic. This is brought about by penetrative or blunt trauma to the chest, ultimately affecting the spine’s middle section. Depending on the amount of force, you can experience nerve damage, which affects the legs, torso, ability to breathe and bladder or bowel control.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
Common causes of workplace spinal cord injuries
Spinal injuries are particularly common in large-scale factories, such as manufacturing plants or advanced machinery laboratories. The use of heavy machinery in these industries can lead to an increased risk of back-related injury, primarily when moving or carrying heavy items.
Industrial jobs, such as working in construction sites, are a leading cause of spinal injuries. The operation of bulldozers, cranes and other heavy-duty vehicles can pose detrimental effects to your posture and back. The continuous strain of lifting cinder blocks, building materials or falling from heights can cause spinal injury.
Common symptoms of an occupational spinal injury
A spinal injury comes with various symptoms, requiring a medical diagnosis to determine its severity. Here are the common signs associated with a spinal cord injury:
- Back or neck pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Frequent imbalance in mobility
- Tingling and numbing sensation
- Muscle spasms
- Constant coughing
- Loss of bladder control
- Poor coordination
- Loss of sensation
- Shortness of breath
Spinal cord treatment options
Treating a spinal injury can be a lengthy and costly endeavor. While some damage may be irreversible, a series of routine treatments can be carried out to help provide relief.
When you’ve suffered a spinal injury, extensive surgery under local anesthesia will stabilize your damaged spine. If the condition is critical, you may be relocated to a professional spinal center.
The recuperative stage of a spinal injury can be the most disorienting and expensive part of the ordeal. You will be strapped to a vital sign monitor and IV drips. Later, you’ll go through physical therapy.
Employment after a spinal cord injury is not always guaranteed. Not only do you have to deal with the hefty medical bills, but you also have to cope with the life-changing consequences. Arizona workers’ compensation laws help some eligible workers receive reimbursement for medical expenses and a portion of their salary earnings for the wages lost during their absence.